Post Mortem

Interfacing political class, police force & patriarchal lines

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/31/2019 11:19:36 AM IST

 It has been one of the most raging and intriguing question for some thinking people and humanists in particular in recent times is: Why should the Muslims, Indigenous people and the Dalits in particular die in police custody and undergo all forms of tortures in police stations or when they get arrested? Though there have been some data available on this mostly confines to a particular district or state; we do not have a comprehensive data available in recent times as we have been witnessing a spate of attacks and death of the Muslims, Dalits and Tribals particularly the recent ones. The question that surfaced unfolds many facts which would stupefy many of us.

“One in every two Indian policemen believes that Muslims are “very much” or “somewhat” prone to committing crimes and that police complaints of atrocities against Scheduled Caste and tribals are “false and motivated”, says a study on police prejudice. Further, Karnataka police personnel topped the list when it came to believing Muslims and Scheduled Caste are “very much” prone to committing crimes, with 26% and 22% of policemen exhibiting the prejudice respectively. The data put together works out 50%, if one takes into consideration those who believe these groups are “somewhat” into criminal activities. It’s appalling. 

The startling revelations are part of the Status of Policing in India report 2019: Police Adequacy and working Conditions prepared by Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (Lokniti-CSDS) and Common Cause which covered about 11,836 police personnel, including 2,416 women and 10,595 of their family members in 21 states. The core reason and propelling factor posited is “An institutional bias against the marginalized sections further increases the vulnerability of these groups,” the report added. It is reflected in their thinking and actions. The report further states that “half of the police personnel in 15 out of 21 states surveyed believe that complaints under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are “very much” or “somewhat” false and motivated”. Hence, the mental make-up of the police force barring a few is casteist.

Social, religio-cultural and communal prejudices and fixations have corroded the mindsets of those in polity and in police force. Their mind-set moves in such ways that those belonging to the Muslim, Dalit and Tribal communities have the criminal tendencies and thus prone to criminal activities. It is tightly embedded in their psyche and so they talk and act against these communities. The caste and religious prejudices and biases are enmeshed in their mind-sets and their actions are driven by these fixations. The political class by and large and the ideologies of some political parties resonates these aspects and facets. Their mission and vision are solely dependent on annihilating these categories of people. Indian society to a large extent reflects the corroded mindsets that consider the Muslims, Dalits and the Indigenous people as the “Others”.

To substantiate, the sorts of prejudices is the highest among the Uttar Pradesh police (82%) followed by Andhra Pradesh police (74%). Thirty percent of Karnataka police believe “very much” in this prejudice, while another 25% believe such cases are “somewhat” not true. Therefore, we can co-relate the data with the Government that rules any state. Uttar Pradesh tops in the atrocities against the Muslims, Dalits and Tribals and there is no reprieve, while on the other they are on the rise because the party that governs and the police force that ought to dispense law and order are clouded with prejudices and with corroded mind-sets. Indian society as such is caste-driven and propelled by stereo-types. 

For example, policemen in Bihar, Karnataka and West Bengal have the “highest levels of bias” against women in the force compared to their counterparts in other states, a new survey found. Those who are supposed to dispense law and order justly and impartially enmeshed with corroded mindsets and so “such opinions by people in position of power place within the criminal justice system are bound to have an impact on the manner in which the provisions of such law are implemented”. 

“About two-thirds of policemen in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar held the opinion that Muslims were likely to be naturally prone (very much and somewhat) to committing violence. In Uttarakhand, this figure was as high as 79%”.  In addition, “Policemen from Karnataka (22%) and UP (19%) had the highest amount of personnel believing that people from the Scheduled Caste were highly likely to be prone to committing crimes”. By and large, the police force believes that these communities are “some what” prone to committing violence. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand has 50% such personnel”. UP Police more than half believe that Upper-caste Hindus are “very much” or “somewhat” naturally prone to committing violence. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka had the highest number of police personnel who believe “OBCs to be very likely to be naturally prone to committing violence (15% reporting as ‘very much’).

Patriarchy continues to be another triggering point wherein the polity and police have their distinct ways of viewing women. For instance, personnel from Bihar, Karnataka and West Bengal in particular are most likely to believe that police women are “less hardworking, less efficient and should focus on their household duties”, according to the Status of Police in India Report: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions. 

The study based on the survey covering 11, 836 police personnel including 2,416 women, and 10, 595 of their family members finds that an overall 23% personnel have “high bias” against women personnel. While 25% of men have “high bias”, 23% women also share this view.  Shockingly, “Men in police were found to harbor much stronger stereotypes compared to their female counterparts. Male police personnel are more likely to agree with the gender stereotypical statements” the report states. 

Asserting that Indian police system “reeks of bias” against women working in the police, the report said “one in every four male police personnel has a ‘high’ degree of bias against women in police, while a significant proportion of male police personnel were also found to have ‘medium’ degree of bias (16%). Among men, 60% personnel in Bihar, 44% in Karnataka and 39% in West Bengal had high bias against their women counterpart”.  Therefore, Indian society is enmeshed with caste and communal prejudices and is indeed patriarchal. The psyche and mind-set of most of the Indians are mired with caste, communal and patriarchal blinkers and the Indian structure and systems of governance echoes and reflects these. Polity, law-enforcing agencies and institutions of governance edify the corroded mind-sets engrained in their psyche.

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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